A/N: Umm, so I haven't updated in like a year and a half...I'm bad. Okay, so this chapter isn't edited because my beta is having computer issues, and so what I'm gonna do is replace the edited version when the time comes. Yaaaaaay.
Kelly: In the year in a half that I haven't updated this story, you must have gotten over your addiction. xDD I can't help it. This story is hard to write. But it's going to be over fairly soon.
World of Make Believe: That was before I got a beta/grew up a little bit. Now I'm much better.
Broken Gold: You could read WOftR in the lull. I actually update WOftR more than I update this. But I like I said, I'm nearly done with this. Maybe four chapters more.
Nightclaw: Brazenpaw had to die because I like making Ravenwing miserable...and also, Brazenpaw comes back later as a ghost and is totally a badass ghost. Not this chapter, but definitely soon.
Sandra: Not really, no. But I try. It is what it is.
Disclaimer: I don't own Warriors, I never will. C'mon, based on what you've seen in this story, I don't think you really want me to own Warriors.
He wasn't sure how long he was going to run for. All he knew was that he would run until he was out of ThunderClan territory. Ravenwing didn't trust Shinestar to wait for sunset before sending a patrol after him. In fact, he kept looking over his shoulder to make sure Darkchaser wasn't on his heels. His paws pounded against the hard earth, and the blood roared in his ears. Really, it was quite exhilarating, until Ravenwing remembered he was running for his life.
He knew he couldn't head to RiverClan territory. They were still under ThunderClan's reign, and his physical similarity to their tyrant was uncanny. There was no way the RiverClan cats would hide him. It seemed like a harsh glare was blinding Ravenwing, making sure that he knew Shinestar was on the prowl. Perhaps it wasn't as obvious to the other Clans, but Shinestar was coming upon the forest, like an owl on a mouse.
The glare will destroy the forest. Ravenwing stopped in his tracks. He recalled the prophecy that he heard only twice from StarClan, but it played in his head every day in an endless loop. "Glare . . . shine . . . that's it!" Ravenwing cried, feeling extraordinarily stupid. "The prophecy was warning me about Shinestar!" The forest was eerily silent toward his revelation. A mouse shook his head at him.
After a moment, he added, "Well that's kind of mouse-brained and anti-climactic. Why would they tell me about something that I already knew?" He pondered that for a moment. Shinestar, admittedly, had not been his primary concern until recently. Actually, Shinestar had never been his primary concern. Sure, there were certain ugly flashes of Shinestar's personality, but Ravenwing had never really bothered himself with them. He had just brushed his feelings off, hoping that Shinestar would be able to control the random mood swings.
Perhaps…perhaps he's losing his grip on his mood swings, Ravenwing realized. A wave of dread crashed over him. It was finally making sense now, and his purpose was clear. The dream he had by the pool was finally starting to make sense.
The glare of Shinestar's ambitions and personality would destroy the forest if he couldn't get a hold on them. Ravenwing had been the only one who had helped Shinestar control the uglier sides of his personality. With a sickening jolt, Ravenwing realized that it was already too late. Anything he could've done to help, he now couldn't, as he was banished from the Clan. The forest will be destroyed and it's all my fault, he thought with a sigh. Way to go, Ravenwing. I'm sure StarClan really is pushing for you now. He could almost hear Duskpaw laughing at him.
A roar of a monster startled him out of his thoughts, and he realized he had almost crossed the Thunderpath. Checking over his shoulder, he made sure that no one was following. Ravenwing looked across to ShadowClan territory. It seemed dark and foreboding, but he knew it was the best place to start.
With a determined gulp of air, he darted across the Thunderpath. For a moment, he wasn't quite sure he was going to make it to the other side. Needless to say, he was relieved when his paws touched ShadowClan territory. Although, Ravenwing was not-so lucky either; he had come face to face with Brokentail. "What are you doing on our territory?" Brokentail growled, unsheathing his claws. Ravenwing tried to repress a shiver of fear that coursed through him.
"Brokentail!" a sharp voice reprimanded him. A black tom that Ravenwing recognized to be Nightpelt wove his way to the front of the group. "Can't you see that this is a medicine cat?"
"A medicine cat on our territory," growled the long-furred tom. He took another menacing step toward Ravenwing. Ravenwing did his best not to show the utter fear that he felt. He would love to meet any cat that wasn't, on some level, terrified of Brokentail. Everyone knew he was ruthless. Some in ThunderClan had said that Brokentail would do whatever it took to become leader.
Ravenwing always thought to himself, But that would involve killing the deputy and Clan leader. No one would do that. Moments later, he mentally corrected himself by saying, Shinestar did. His thoughts momentarily dwelled on young Tigerpaw. Where would the tom's future lead with a dangerous mentor like Shinestar? How would Shinestar even begin to persuade the young tom into joining the family plan? Were his hopes for Tigerpaw about to be dashed? Only time will tell…he mused.
"He's allowed to be here," Nightpelt interrupted, jerking Ravenwing out of his thoughts. Brokentail walked toward Nightpelt, looking much like a jungle predator. Their faces were barely a mouse-length apart. "Medicine cats are allowed to travel in between territories," Nightpelt said obstinately. Brokentail's lip curled in the beginnings of a snarl, before turning away and heading back to the camp.
"We'll see about that when I'm leader," Brokentail growled under his breath. Ravenwing let out a shaky exhale. The way the young tom spoke startled Ravenwing, making a mental note to keep an eye out for the ShadowClan warrior. "No cat should just be allowed to roam into ShadowClan territory whenever they please," he muttered. Ravenwing rolled his eyes and snorted.
Brokentail swung his head around and glared at Ravenwing. For a moment, he thought he would've been crowfood. Then the forest really would've been in trouble. The other cats in the patrol looked at him curiously as Nightpelt beckoned him forward.
The group of cats moved through the marsh, unfamiliar territory to Ravenwing's paused. He tried not to look too disdainfully at the sticky marshland beneath his paws. It felt unnatural. He knew he would have to get used to it at some point. "Why are you here?" Nightpelt asked curiously. Ravenwing was a little surprised by the question, at first. He hadn't been expecting someone to ask him. He had also been expecting to walk into ShadowClan camp, virtually undetected.
He wasn't sure why he expected that. Then again, anyone could just amble through ShadowClan territory undetected, or so the rest of the forest gossiped. Ravenwing had heard all sorts of stories about loners and rogues trying to get into ShadowClan. One, or so he had heard, succeeded. With a snort, he decided he was glad nothing like that would ever happen to ThunderClan.
"I'm here to see Raggedstar," Ravenwing meowed, realizing he had left Nightpelt's question unanswered. "It's a matter of grave importance." Nightpelt nodded, satisfied with that answer. However, Brokentail cast a suspicious glance over his shoulder at the rest of the patrol, and narrowed his eyes at Ravenwing. With a shake of his head, Ravenwing sent a silent prayer to whomever was listening that he would not live to see Brokentail become leader of anything.
At what seemed to be the threshold of the camp, he recognized Yellowfang waiting for the patrol to come back. When she saw Ravenwing, she tilted her head curiously at him. "He's here to speak to Raggedstar," Brokentail announced, his tail swishing angrily as he headed for the warrior's den. Yellowfang stared sorrowfully at the young tom.
"Yellowfang, I think you should come in to hear this," Ravenwing said, unsure if Yellowfang was even listening to him. When she didn't respond, he mewed loudly, "Yellowfang." This seemed to startle her out of her stupor. "I think you should hear this."
With Yellowfang accompanying him, Ravenwing entered Raggedstar's den. ShadowClan's leader gave him a stern look. Not a look like Brokentail's, but certainly stern. Despite his scorn for nearly every cat in the forest, Ravenwing felt a surge of respect for the dark brown tabby tom. "What is it?" Raggedstar spoke, after a moment of intense silence.
"The forest is in danger," Ravenwing said without preamble. Raggedstar opened his mouth, a look of confusion etched on his features. "Shinestar is planning to take over the forest," he continued. For a moment, Raggedstar and Yellowfang looked at him strangely.
"Do you have proof?" Raggedstar asked, staring right at Ravenwing, after exchanging a quick glance with Yellowfang. A sinking feeling settled in Ravenwing's gut. They did not believe him. They had every right, Ravenwing mused after a moment. He wouldn't believe himself either. He could not tell them the truth; it was too long, and they would surely turn him away. The gears in Ravenwing's frantic mind began to churn, and he silently thanked Shinestar for all the moons of lying he had to the Clan.
"Shinestar has banished me from ThunderClan," Ravenwing mewed sorrowfully, putting on his best regretful face. "When asked what my crime was, Shinestar would not answer, saying I was banished and that there was nothing more to it. Many began to protest, but Shinestar snarled at them, saying that he was leader and that nothing would override his judgment." Anything to get them to believe me.
"That's horrible," Yellowfang mewed after the shock hung in the air. "But that still doesn't answer his question. Do you have proof that Shinestar is trying to take over the forest?" Ravenwing let himself relax, if only slightly. He could now at least tell part of the truth.
"You know how Crookedjaw has been filling in for Spalshstar these last two Gatherings?" Ravenwing began. Yellowfang and Raggedstar looked uneasily at each other, waiting for the answer. Ravenwing momentarily thought on what would happen if they didn't believe him. Where would he go from there? WindClan?
"Go on," Raggedstar mewed, ears pricked. Ravenwing let out a sigh of relief. This meant, at the very least, Splashstar's absences had not gone unnoticed by the other Clans, and that they had found it concerning. He had their attention, and for this, he allowed himself a small moment of pride. It was more than he could've ever accomplished in ThunderClan.
"Shinestar has taken over RiverClan and killed Splashstar," Ravenwing mewed. "He has not told any other cat other than myself and few of his trusted warriors that this has happened." Raggedstar and Yellowfang looked very unconvinced, and Ravenwing momentarily lost his confidence. It was a stretch, he realized, to assume that they would believe him right off the bat.
He was surprised, however, when Raggedstar mewed, "Leave us, Ravenwing. I wish to conference with Yellowfur and Foxheart." Ravenwing backed out slowly of the den, allowing Foxheart to enter. This could be bad, he realized, as he didn't have a single ally in the den. Yellowfang was an acquaintance, at best.
He sighed to himself, "This is why cats make friends." He could've sworn a snicker on the wind and he muttered, "Shut up, Duskpaw."
On the other side of ShadowClan territory, a ThunderClan patrol was on the hunt for Ravenwing. "The scent stops here," Tigerpaw reported, standing on the very edge of the Thunderpath. Darkchaser and Barkpelt let out frustrated growls. Darkchaser lashed his tail. Tigerpaw looked across the Thunderpath, and into the deep, unfamiliar territory that was ShadowClan's. "Do you really think he went to ShadowClan?" Tigerpaw asked unsurely, hardly believing that any cat lived in that dark territory.
"There's no way to know for certain," a voice from behind them growled. Tigerpaw looked as his mentor glared hatefully at the other side of the path. "But it would be like ShadowClan to take in a traitor." Turning to Barkpelt and Darkchaser, he mewed, "Scout on ahead. I don't want Ravenwing to ambush us. This could be a false trail."
The two warriors did as they were told. Shinestar beckoned Tigerpaw closer, and the young cat did so. Tigerpaw could help the feeling of apprehension whenever he approached the leader. The amount of respect that the black cat held in his paws entranced Tigerpaw, and he wanted to be exactly like his leader one day. "StarClan has told me a great deal about you, young Tigerpaw," Shinestar mewed.
Tigerpaw's eyes sparkled. StarClan had spoken about him? To Shinestar? He could barely contain a yowl of joy; however, he could not repress the whispered, "Really?" He was in such awe, that their ancestors had already seen a great destiny. He longed to know what their ancestors said of him, but knew that the bond between leader and StarClan was sacred.
"Yes, really," Shinestar purred, drawing Tigerpaw in with his tail. "You will be a great and powerful warrior, one day destined to follow in my paw prints." Tigerpaw could only stare at his leader, with wide eyes, vividly imagining what being a Clan leader was like. "And why not? Our family has been a great family for many, many moons. We have always held a position of power in the Clan. You must continue that tradition, so that ThunderClan may thrive."
Tigerpaw's mind was practically whirring. He sat up a little straighter, trying to show Shinestar that he was prepared to take on such an important responsibility. "That's why you chose me as your apprentice, right?" Tigerpaw asked eagerly, putting the clues together. Shinestar gave him a reapproving nod.
"Yes…not because of your assured position as leader," Shinestar mewed. Tigerpaw tilted his head curiously to one side, wondering what his leader possibly had to say. What more could there be than being leader of ThunderClan? "Because, you will one day have the entire forest at your paws. StarClan has shown me what I was must do to help you get there."
Tigerpaw gasped, "But there have always been four Clans! And four leaders..." When Shinestar gave him a murderous look, Tigerpaw stammered, "I-I just don't think that StarClan would want me to lead the entire forest. I don't think StarClan wants any one cat to rule the entire forest. It's too much for one cat to handle alone."
"Are you saying that I'm lying to you?" Shinestar growled, looming over Tigerpaw. Tigerpaw pressed himself against the forest floor, as if the stability of the forest floor would save him from the capricious behavior of his leader.
"Not at all!" Tigerpaw gasped. He straightened himself up, and gave himself a swift, self-conscious lick. "Our forest has been this way for so long…I just don't think StarClan would change it out of the blue." He added hastily, "That's all, Shinestar. I swear."
"I would agree with you, normally," Shinestar mewed contemplatively. Tigerpaw blinked, and the arduous glare in Shinestar's eyes was gone. The black cat was calm once more and his tone was placid. "But StarClan has shown me a vision of the future. There are too many cats dying now from constant battles. Wouldn't we lose fewer cats, if all four Clans were combined into one?"
"I suppose…"Tigerpaw mewed. He sat and contemplated his mentor's words for a few moments. "But…wouldn't we lose what makes us ThunderClan? If all four Clans lived together, then we'd be no better off than a kittypet."
"But think," Shinestar mewed. "With the entire forest at your paws, herbs would be much easier to find. Any cat could be cured, any cat could be saved." Tigerpaw's mind went blank, suddenly thinking of his brother. "If all the Clans lived together, then no apprentice would end up like Brazenpaw."
That name made Tigerpaw feel like he had been hit by a bolt of lightning. He felt as if the earth swayed beneath his paws. Brazenpaw. Tigerpaw closed his eyes and longed to feel his brother's spirit standing nearby, or some sign that Brazenpaw had not abandoned him. He could see his brother's bright shining eyes, glowing with pure joy as he touched noses with Ravenwing.
Ravenwing. That traitor. Tigerpaw's shoulders tensed up, and he glared across the border, wishing that StarClan could give him powers to kill the former medicine. His grief for Brazenpaw was only fueling the fire, and Tigerpaw's claws longed for revenge. If there was one Clan…there would be no traitors like Ravenwing. Thistleclaw and Brazenpaw wouldn't have to die at the paws of cats like him. "What do I need to do?" Tigerpaw mumbled, looking at his paws.
"I'm sorry?" Shinestar asked, a smirk forming on his lips. His plan was slowly coming to fruition. Tigerpaw was falling into place, just as he had initially planned. Poor, unsuspecting kit. Shinestar thought with a sneer. Tigerpaw didn't notice. He was still looking at his paws. "Speak up, Tigerpaw," the older cat coaxed. "I'm losing my hearing in my old age, and I didn't quite hear you properly."
Tigerpaw looked up from his paws this time, a fire burning in his amber eyes. "What do I need to do?" Tigerpaw growled. "So that I can become leader? So that I can bring all the cats under my rule?" His voice wavered as he added, "So no cat ends up like Brazenpaw."
"Listen well to what I have to say, Tigerpaw. You shall ascent to greatness," Shinestar mewed. Tigerpaw nodded grimly, determination giving new strength to his paws. "Come, now. We must catch up with Barkpelt and Darkchaser. There is a lot of work that you will have to do, but you will be great." Growling low enough that Tigerpaw couldn't hear him, Shinestar added, "I will make sure of it."
When Tigerpaw and Shinestar first arrived at Fourtrees, they could only see Barkpelt and Darkchaser, glaring at something on the ground. Then Darkchaser stepped back, revealing it to be Crookedjaw on the ground, bleeding from several wounds. "He attacked us!" snarled Darkchaser, placing a paw on Crookedjaw's throat. The light brown tabby spat at Shinestar as he approached.
"Is this true, Barkpelt?" Shinestar turned to the other warrior. There was a gleam in his eyes, as if the brown tabby knew that Darkchaser was not telling the truth, but did not dare contradict the black and white warrior for fear of ending up like the warrior on the ground. So he nodded stiffly. "Now Crookedjaw," Shinestar asked, in the smoothest of voices. "Why have you done this?"
"They were in RiverClan territory!" snarled Crookedjaw. "I was doing what any deputy should: defend his borders." Although, he added with something of a sneer, "I guess borders don't matter when you rule both Clans, does it, Shinestar?" Barkpelt and Tigerpaw both gasped. Crookedjaw looked delighted at the surprised reactions of Tigerpaw and Barkpelt. "So you haven't told them, Shinestar? Yes, it would be rather difficult to explain to your warriors why you rule over two Clans, isn't it? Why you've forsaken StarClan?"
"It is the will of StarClan that this happens," Shinestar mewed calmly, alleviating Tigerpaw's fears that his uncle had been lying to him. "If I announced it outright, the other cats would not be so accepting. Why do you think I've let you play leader for as long as I have."
"Play leader?" Crookedjaw writhed against the paw placed on his throat. Tigerpaw was impressed by the strength the warrior exuded, despite the pressing force above. "I've been a better leader to my Clan these past two moons than you will ever be in your lifetime." Barkpelt let out a low growl, and Tigerpaw raised his haunches. Darkchaser applied more weight to the paw that was on Crookedjaw's throat.
"Let him go," Shinestar purred. The four cats looked at Shinestar as if he were insane. Darkchaser hesitantly stepped off of Crookedjaw, allowing the tom to stand up and breathe. Barkpelt watched his leader carefully. Slowly and deliberately, Shinestar stalked up to Crookedjaw, who held his head up proudly. "You think you're a better leader than me?" Shinestar murmured softly.
An eerie chill swept through the clearing. Tigerpaw, and the other cats shivered. Except for Shinestar. He stood perfectly still, the cold chill reflected in his eye. A twig cracked, and bird flew up into the air, but no cat in the clearing moved. "No," growled Crookedjaw. "I know I'm a better leader than you. And I know StarClan has not forsaken us."
"But they have," Shinestar whispered intensely. "Crookedjaw, if you ever want to be leader of anything, you must treat your leader with respect."
"My leader is Splashstar," Crookedjaw hissed.
"No!" Shinestar yowled, striking Crookedjaw across the muzzle. The light tabby tom didn't flinch. Shinestar took another menacing step closer, snarling at Crookedjaw, "I am your leader. Don't forget it." Crookedjaw simply blinked. "Get out of my sight," Shinestar growled. Crookedjaw was more than relieved to leave Fourtrees, and he sprinted back toward the RiverClan border.
"Shinestar?" Barkpelt asked hesitantly. "Are you really ThunderClan and RiverClan leader?"
"Of course I am!" snapped Shinestar. Then, calm settled over his features and he gave his shoulder a quick lick. "Yes," Shinestar mewed evenly. "But it is a very complicated matter, which I will explain when we return to camp. I assure you that this is the work of StarClan at hand. You will see." With that, he turned around and headed back toward ThunderClan camp. Darkchaser immediately bolted after him, and Barkpelt began walking back to camp as well.
This is why he wasn't worried about banishing his medicine cat. Tigerpaw realized with a jolt. He wouldn't need to worry about a medicine cat if he already had one on hand. Looking at the droplets of Crookedjaw's blood, scattered on the sacred ground of the forest, Tigerpaw muttered to himself, "Is this really the will of StarClan?"
Then, he remembered that Crookedjaw was injured because he was opposed to this new regime. No cat would be hurt if they followed orders…right? He nodded to himself, satisfied that his destiny was already welcomed in StarClan with open paws. He bounded after the other cats, feeling much more light-pawed than he had earlier.
Hiding in the brush nearby, Foxheart turned to Ravenwing with loud a gasp, "You were telling the truth!" After Raggedstar had his meeting, he told Ravenwing to bring Foxheart to the RiverClan border, to speak with Crookedjaw. Foxheart had brought an entire patrol of ShadowClan cats with her, just to stay on the safe side, and to prevent Ravenwing from luring the deputy into some kind of trap.
However, they had only gotten to Fourtrees when they had seen Crookedjaw running after Darkchaser and Barkpelt, and the subsequent scene that followed. It was a clumsy apprentice who had stepped on the twig, and sent the bird flying off into the air.
Much to Ravenwing's relief, Shinestar had successfully proven the extent of his madness without even showing himself to the group of cats hiding in the brush. Now, Raggedstar had the word of his trusted deputy, as well as many of his top warriors that Shinestar was mad and had ambitions of taking over the forest.
"So what do we do about Shinestar?" Foxheart whispered worriedly. Many of the cats around them were looking at each other uneasily, wondering what exactly could be done about the stark raving tom.
"We wait for Shinestar to announce his dominance over RiverClan," Ravenwing mewed. "Then we align ourselves with WindClan, and fight him to keep the forest as StarClan decreed it." He looked up at the sky, beginning to shine with the light of the stars above them that glittered determinedly.
A lily floated on the breeze toward Ravenwing, and Lilyfur's sweet voice floated in his ear, "You know now what must be done." Her voice took on a much saddened tone as she added, "The dying light will bring down the bird's flight." He stood a moment more, drinking in Lilyfur's scent before joining the ShadowClan cats.
He could not help but feel light-hearted even with the knowledge that there was work to be done to help the ShadowClan cats take down Shinestar. Lilyfur's voice had been enough to lift his spirits off the ground. Yet, the prophecy still echoed in his ears, and he had a feeling that his losses were not quite finished yet.
For all this faith that he had now instilled in the ShadowClan cats, he could not imagine a world without Shinestar being an ever-potent threat, looming over every cat in the forest, lurking in every shadow.
I love Tigerpaw. So much. It's sort of a justifiable explanation for why Tigerstar turned out the way he did. He was manipulated as a little apprentice. And for him, it only gets worse from here. He and Ravenwing are the two characters that never really seem to catch a break in this story. The next chapter will have more action, definitely more Bluefur, and I think also, the Bluefur/Oakheart romance that leads to the birth of Stonefur, Mistystar and Mosskit.